Obidos, Portugal Is A Book-Lover's Paradise

Situated on the scenic Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is a popular vacation destination year-round. For those who love vibrant cityscapes, breathtaking Atlantic coastlines, and mountain access too, it's nothing short of an idyllic stop. Plenty of well-known destinations in Portugal appeal to travelers from near and far.

The lush beaches of the Algarve inspire those looking to enjoy time on the sand. The wine of Porto is a popular draw that many find equally delicious. According to Statista, 1.94 million international tourists stopped in the capital city of Lisbon in 2021, making it the most visited destination in the country.

While the larger cities frequently grab traveler attention, Portugal is also a place packed with hidden surprises. Among them is the charming town of Óbidos. Typically, traveling anywhere is made much more meaningful when tailored to visitor interests. If you happen to be an adventurer with a passion for reading, and literature is your love language, Óbidos is designed for you.

According to Portugal City Guides, Óbidos hosts 2,200 residents. Arriving here, guests will quickly discover a unique atmosphere built on a rich past paired with modern appeal. From the colorful homes and cobbled streets to the churches, boutique shops, and remaining medieval castles, it's a place where legacy and discoveries collide.

While it may be small, Óbidos is bursting with stories to tell. It's truly a book lover's dream come true. When you're ready to get reading, there's no shortage of options to be found.

A town revitalized by a love for literature

A trip to Óbidos provides an opportunity to participate in many annual festivals. According to the Óbidos Portugal Tourism Guide, top events include the Óbidos International Chocolate Festival and the Óbidos Medieval Fair. Travelers find Óbidos has a way with celebrations that are endlessly inviting.

To pair that iconic festival culture with a sustainable future, the city of Óbidos set out in 2013 to revitalize the town culturally and economically through literature. According to a heritage review by the Art History Institute at the University of Lisbon, the goal was to create a destination built entirely on books. Ideally, Óbidos would be a place visitors would travel to from across the map to indulge their passion for pursuing great stories.

Working in partnership with Lisbon-based bookstore Ler Devagar, the town of Óbidos began to transform itself into a vibrant literary center using resources readily available. World Literature Today highlighted the tandem effort that resulted in buildings of all kinds being transformed into bookstores and author hubs. Literature began to be infused into the town's very aesthetic.

Óbidos celebrated its first annual international literary festival in 2015 (FOLIO) and officially received UNESCO recognition as a City of Literature. According to the Creative City Network at UNESCO, Óbidos joins a group of 295 global creative cities in more than 90 countries. This recognition solidified Óbidos as a place where bibliophiles could flock and embrace a love of books without limits.

An abundance of books just waiting to be discovered

The sheer number of books and literary stops in the small town of Óbidos is designed to fascinate visitors. The colorful city canvas easily inspires the imagination too. According to Cities of Literature, Óbidos houses no less than half a million books within its parameters.

It seems that everywhere you look, a traditional space has been turned into an innovative bookstore. Wine cellars, historic churches, and markets have been transformed. Even former schools have been turned into shops where visitors can settle in and find a good story to get lost in.

The town of Óbidos has a book-themed hotel to its name as well. The Literary Man invites guests to make a reservation and spend time browsing the stacks of books on-site. Even the hotel restaurant is situated within a room designed with floor-to-ceiling shelves of literature.

Creativity and a love of literature make Óbidos a surprising and refreshing stop on the map for those with a passion for reading. Unforgettable stories are both found and created here. This makes it a destination worth adding to your itinerary the next time travel plans bring you to Portugal.